Asbestos, Quebec: Digital Public History Exemplar

Asbestos Quebec, Jeffrey Mine

Aerial view of the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec. Photo by Susana Ferreira Machado. Used under Creative Commons license.

Today I would like to share an example of a creative Quebec history project that has really inspired me: Asbestos, PQ: A Graphic Novel.  It draws together history, art, and sounds to illustrate the relationship between the town of Asbestos, Quebec and its chrystotile asbestos mine, which is the world’s largest.

I first heard about Asbestos in a class on the history of Quebec that I audited this past semester.  We read a chapter from Jessica Van Horssen’s dissertation on the dynamics of asbestos mining in the town and its environmental impact at local and global levels.  Then we looked at the graphic novel version that she created in collaboration with her friend, artist Radha-Prema McAllister.  Though the two works are very different in terms of the level of detail they offer, the complexity and importance of the story comes through in both.  Continue reading

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Sounds of the Wellington Tunnel

I’m here in Montreal studying ruins, including their histories and the often-unsanctioned things that happen inside them.  And since I took a radio production workshop that tasked me with recording ambient sounds from somewhere out in the world, I decided to head down to the old, abandoned Wellington Tunnel with my audio recorder.  Continue reading

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Jean-Talon Market: A Wonderful Place in Montreal

Peppers at the Jean Talon Market. Photo by Tim Giebel. Used under Creative Commons license.

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada, the zenith of the harvest season here.  And so it seems appropriate to write about my favorite place in Montreal thus far: the Jean Talon Market.

Jean Talon is the largest open-air market in North America, and it happens to be two blocks from my apartment.

I go almost every day, and the scene is always one of novelty.  Each stall displays its own wonderland of food, most of it produced by farmers in the Quebec countryside.  Eggplants and colorful peppers gleam in the sun.  Infinite wheels of soft cheese sit behind glass at the fromagerie.  There are hearty cuts of meat.  Barrels of apples.  Garlic hanging in bunches.  Steamy spiced sausages and savory lunch crepes.  Continue reading

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North of the Border

Montreal’s Lachine Canal in autumn. Photo by Artur Staszewski on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

J’aime Montréal!

I spent my first few days here figuring out How Canada Works, as least as far as the mundane details of life go.  Now I’m pretty well settled in.  Spending loonies & toonies as appropriate.  Asking for cheese in “gramme” units (and in ever-improving French!).  Riding the metro like any regular person who knows how the card readers work.

Then there have been more complex things to take in, like the political landscape.  Continue reading

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Tenakee Springs: How It All Turned Out

A view from the ferry during my final ride out of Tenakee.

Today I write not from Alaska but from Montreal, where my summer of chaos draws to a close.  To recap: I finished my masters degree in American history, got married, then moved to Tenakee Springs, Alaska for a two-month museum job.  Once back in Philly, my husband and I had a few days to vacate our apartment and drive a jam-packed rental car up to Quebec.  We will reside here in Montreal this academic year as I work on my Fulbright project.

At this point I’m ready for life to settle into a routine involving local history and top-shelf fromage.  But before I begin blogging about Montreal, I must conclude the story of Tenakee Springs — a place I started missing the moment I boarded the ferry out.  Continue reading

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Some Neat Things in Our Tiny Alaskan Museum

Future museum: left side, bright red building in front of the bright blue building.

Last week a journalist from Sitka came and interviewed me about my summer job here in Tenakee.  I talked for a bit about my work preparing for the opening of the new history museum, showing her the attic of musty objects and papers.  I explained what “cataloging” and “rehousing” meant and described how organizing the collection would make it easier to work with and preserve.

After my spiel she offered a paraphrase: “So your job is to sort through boxes of old stuff?”

Yes.  Yes, that exactly!

As you might imagine, I’ve come across some pretty interesting local artifacts over the course of the summer.

Here are just a few of my favorites, starting with…  Continue reading

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My Commute Down Tenakee Trail

A structure I pass on my way to work.

To get from my cabin to my museum collection workspace, I take a 15-minute stroll along the only road in Tenakee Springs: a gravel trail that runs right through the heart of town along the inlet. Though I’ve now walked the trail many times, I still find something new to appreciate about it every day.

So now: imagine a soundscape of crows cawing, rumbling handcarts, and waves lapping against the shore… and we will begin your virtual tour of Tenakee, as experienced on my walks to and from work!  Continue reading

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